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3.4 per Million: Conducting FMEAs for Results

by Kubiak, T.M.

Today’s world is fraught with risk. A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a prevention-based, risk management tool. Its real value is reflected in its use as a long-term, living document....


Solid Base

by Ahmed, Afaq;

A petroleum and petrochemical plant consists of equipment such as pumps, valves, motors, flanges, pipes, turbines, tanks and pressure vessels. Typically, such plants rely on a global supplier base to procure such equipment....


Open Access

No Weak Links

by Bailey, Bill D.; Alter, Howard

A global telecommunications organization decided to use the lean tool value stream mapping, along with the eight rights and seven supply chain wastes to better understand its complete supply chain and to help avoid suboptimization....


Open Access

Looping in Quality

by Awofala, Dele

The quality loop framework provides organizations with a structured approach to integrating quality throughout the product assembly process—from the workstation to the customer....


Expert Answers: December 2013

by Wagoner, Keith; Pylipow, Peter E.

Measuring customer experience ... SPC for low-volume assembly....


Open Access

Words to Work By

by QP Staff

Readers shared their favorite quality quotes and reflected on the wisdom of the words....


Get There Faster

by Andell, Jonathon L.

While traditional value stream maps, 5S workplace organization and spaghetti diagrams are crucial tools for the lean practitioner, they do not lend themselves readily to quantifying waste associated with transporting things throughout a facility....


Open Access

Expert Answers: August 2013

by QP Staff

Correction vs. corrective action ... Identifying and eliminating waste...


3.4 per Million: Operational Definitions

by Kubiak, T.M.

If your organization is like most when it comes to data collection or metric development, little thought is actually given to these processes. I mean, after all, how difficult can it really be?...


Take Charge

by Stepanovich Paul L.; Hopkins, Pamela J.

The horseshoe nail proverb is remembered for illustrating how a seemingly inconsequential issue can lead to dire consequences. In the thought experiment that follows, the nail becomes a metaphor for failures of managers to understand variation....


The Power of Prediction

by Kruger, Gregory A.

Inconsistent supplier delivery can negatively impact an organization’s ability to serve its customers. Using quality and statistical methods can help predict demand and minimize the impact of supplier inconsistency....


Open Access

Quality in the First Person: Who's On Top?

by Carty, Fitz-George A.

Leaders appear to encourage a fear-driven and reactive work culture by instituting limiting and detrimental work systems and policies. Throughout my career, I have witnessed these counterproductive efforts again and again....


3.4 per Million: The Significance of Simulation

by Kubiak, T.M.

The certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt body of knowledge, introduced in 2010, included the subject of simulation and, specifically, digital process simulation. This is refreshing because this tool is often omitted from lean Six Sigma training....


Open Access

Tangled Mess

by Schonberger, Richard J.

Many of the world's factories are designed in ways detrimental or unhealthy to product quality. The typically complex and lengthy flow times multiply process variables, which can obscure and delay the discovery of defects and nonconformities....


Statistics Roundtable: On Overlapping

by Borror, Connie M.

While teaching a workshop for a small manufacturing firm, two of the participants approached me to discuss what seemed to be a simple problem they had encountered at work....


Expert Answers: February 2012

by QP Staff

The best way to eliminate errors ... Adjusting to a new auditor....


Fail-Safe FMEA

by Rodríguez-Pérez, José; Peña-Rodríguez, Manuel E.

The appropriate use of quality risk management can help organizations comply with regulatory requirements, such as good manufacturing practices or good laboratory practices....


Online Conklin: Baker’s Loaf

by Conklin, Joseph D.; Mazu, Michael J.

When recounting Plant Able’s successful struggle to implement process management, we compared it to raising children. That sums up the story when implementation is in your home plant....


Surf's Up

by Edmund, Mark

In essence, a disconnect within the Telefónica Group was throwing off and disconnecting its customers from the internet....


Reaching Out

by Blumenthal, Cynthia

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Middlesex, Jeffery Eugenides describes life at Ford Motor Co. in the 1920s, detailing how unskilled workers tried to match the calculated pace of assembly lines and a manufacturer that made almost every part itself....


Pushback Prevention

by Schultz, John R.

“Our quality program doesn’t seem to be working.” This statement, or a similar one, is frequently repeated by executives and managers who believe quality-focused projects are not meeting expectations. Such perceptions are often reinforced by published...


Open Access

One Good Idea: Failure Is an Option

by Stansbury, Wayne; Beenken, Kristine

As a reliable means of identifying potential failures before they happen, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) deserves a place in every product life cycle....


Best of Both Worlds

by Granowicz, Gene

Combine flowcharts and turtle diagrams to simplify the presentation of information and clarify process interactions, making employee training and quality management system auditing easier....


On the Map

by Boudreaux, Miriam

Process mapping is an essential technique for identifying all the processes that take place in an organization, as well as their interrelation. This visual tool makes it easy to understand the sequence in which these processes take place....


Open Access

Get Your Ducks in a Row

by Orthaber, John

The ISO 9001 quality management system has been around since 1987, and it is generally acknowledged that the system produces some fairly significant benefits, including improved profitability, higher sales and better employee morale....


Open Access

3.4 per Million: Firefighting With DMAIC

by Snee, Ronald D., Gardner, Edgar C.

As quality professionals, we like to solve problems by finding root causes and putting fixes in place. As a rule, we don’t like to fight fires, but sometimes we have to....


Quality in the First Person: A Different Perspective

by Seoane, Amalia Yoguez

My journey in quality began 1996, when I was studying industrial engineering at Mexico City’s Autonomous Metropolitan University. I was attracted to this field because a friend’s father had a small voltmeter assembly factory, and to sell its products...


No-Hanging Fruit

by Conklin, Joseph D., Mazu, Michael J.

I first met the “no-hanging fruit” problem back in the day when ultrasonic impulse meters (like some quality problems now) were as big as a bread box—or bigger....


Discussion Warranted

by Kleyner, Andre

Warranties are important attributes of most business transactions. Their comprehensive impact on a company’s bottom line, however, is not always clearly understood—even by the people who deal with product quality and reliability on an everyday basis....


Open Access

Where to Start

by Hayes, Bob E.; Goodden, Randall; Atkinson, Ron; Murdock, Frank; Smith, Don

Companies are viewing the Toyota situation as a cautionary tale rife with lessons that can benefit all organizations. To help drive those lessons home, QP recruited five quality experts, each of whom broke down one aspect of the fallout....


Standards Outlook: Taking Responsibility

by Liebesman, Sandford

Social responsibility and sustainability are issues that have gotten the attention of most countries around the world, and they're growing in importance in quality circles....


Window of Opportunity

by Chadha, Rajeev; Kalra, Jay

By employing lean Six Sigma, a supplier for one of the Big Three automakers met its goals and developed technology that is projected to be applicable to any and every automobile—from two-door coupes to full-size vans—within five years....


Quality 3.0

by Kukor, Kreg

Two quality leaders weigh in on the current direction of quality management, sustainable quality improvements and their visions of what “Quality 3.0” will bring....


Expert Answers: January 2010

by QP Staff

Examining risk ... The right conditions...


Salary Survey 2009: The Complete Report

by QP Staff

52 section 6 Salary by Number of Work Hours Online section 7 Salary by Nonexempt vs. exempt Status Online section 8 Salary by Number of Years in Current Position Online section 9 Salary by Number of Years in Current Position and in the Quality Field Onli...


Salary Survey 2009: Part 1, Section 4: Salary by ASQ and RABQSA International Certification

by QP Staff

In all, 57.8% of those surveyed have at least one ASQ certification, and 13.3% have at least one RABQSA International certification....


Open Access

Spring Into Action

by Feigenbaum, A.V.

Last year, I was presented the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. It was a great honor for all of us at General Systems Co.—and for all of us in the quality profession—to be recognized for our efforts related to total quality and innovation....


Statistics Roundtable: Divide and Conquer in Reliability Analyses

by Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.; and Meeker, William Q.

All product is not created equal. Some units are more likely to fail in service than others. Thus, in reliability evaluations, you need to identify subpopulations with different failure susceptibility....


Aerial Coverage

by Clifford, Jim

To harmonize requirements across the supply chain for the management of the Department of Defense aviation CSIs, a standards publication group has reconciled final industry comments and is preparing to publish a new aviation, space and defense standard....


Expert Answers: November 2009

by QP Staff

The TOPS way of getting to the root cause ... Repair vs. rework...


Standards Outlook: Trust, but Verify

by Russell, J.P.

Grouping product, service and process audits together is somewhat natural, because a process audit may include a product or service audit. I’ve dubbed the combination a verification audit....


Moving Right Along

by Cartia, Robert

Art is knowledge kept in the artist’s mind. Science is knowledge that is documented. The goal of any lean organization is to transfer art to science: tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge. Applying lean to aid in the process of control is vital....


3.4 per Million: Perusing Process Performance Metrics

by Kubiak, T.M.

Often, I have students ask for clarification about the subtopic level in the 2007 Six Sigma Black Belt body of knowledge, which deals with process performance metrics....


Take a Bite Out of Inefficiency

by Nuhfer, Dina; and Walters, Thomas

Providing consistent and effective service or product requires a consistent and effective framework for implementing, maintaining and improving tactical and strategic operations. Dentistry is no different....


Open Access

Human Touch

by Nelson, John; Lemarquis, Jean-Paul

“No job is so important, nor service so urgent, that we cannot take the time to perform our work safely.” Those familiar with the old Bell System will remember this safety creed. It helped guide many decisions in potentially dangerous situations....


Off the Ground

by Edmund, Mark

None of the 4,000 fasteners that were hand drilled into the fuselage of any C-17 cargo plane was misaligned or had gone missing. For years, Boeing has been building these top-notch planes. It just wanted to build them better....


Expert Answers: February 2009

by QP Staff

Executives hear money talk ... Customer feedback: What works best?...


Open Access

Perspectives: In Crisis, Give Credit to Quality

by Kumeiga, Andrea; Van Vliet, Benjamin E.

The financial industry needs a quality framework for manufacturing and controlling complex mathematical models, technological systems and financial data. Therefore, if Congress enacted strict quality standards for financial data and its distribution, the ...


Quality in the First Person: Street Smarts

by Haley, Edward B.

When I was 18, I started my career on a production line at my father’s place of employment. Up to that point, my father, an engineer, had always shown me how things were made and how they could be better....


Newer Better Faster

by Stevenson, James R.; Kashef, Ali E.

The Small Business Administration has indicated that the majority of innovations are consistent with the continuous improvement commonly used in the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) Six Sigma method....


Open Access

Keeping Current Online Table

by QP Staff

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: National Institute of Standards and Technology ( NIST) in partnership with ASQ Award criteria are built on seven core values: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information analysis, human ...


Open Access

10 Auditing Rules

by Kausek, Joe

All auditors receive training in the basics of planning, conducting and reporting audits. Unfortunately, this is the only training many ever receive....


Expert Answers: June 2008

by QP Staff

Calculating DPMO ... Origins of sampling plan....


Online Expert Answers

by QP Staff

QP 4 Defect Type Number of defects Number of units Opportunities per unit Total opportunities Defects per opportunity Defects per million opportunities Cross- threaded screw 124 500 25 12500 0.00992 9920 Torque exceeds 2 foot- pounds 210 500 25 12500 0.0...


A Gold Medal Solution

by Adrian, Nicole

By using quality tools, a team from Boeing came up with solutions that eliminated the unsafe conditions that occurred during installation of the details in aircrafts' tailcones....


Expert Answers: March 2008

by QP Staff

Outlook on outsourcing ... When does Six Sigma suffice?...


Open Access

Efficiency Gets a New Identity

by Lin, Dennis; Wadhwa, Vijay

This article demonstrates the impact RFID will have on existing supply chain processes and the improvements RFID implementation will bring by comparing the benefits of RFID with those of barcode for various supply chain entities. The increases in data cap...


Good Vibrations

by Foo, Luke T.

Modern quality management principles define quality as customer satisfaction with product and service. SCGC has a web page where guitar owners can have questions about their guitars answered by Hoover or Roberts. With employee empowerment accompanying goo...


Open Access

Conflict and Complexity

by Dettmer, H. William

Fourteen years before the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch in 1986, NASA unknowingly set in motion a series of events that culminated in the tragic disaster that stunned the proud space agency and rocked a nation....


Turbocharge Your Preventive Action System

by Sittsamer, Murray J.; Oxley, Michael R.; O’Hara, William

A layered process audit (LPA) is an ongoing chain of simple verification checks to make sure a defined process is followed correctly. This powerful management tool can improve safety, quality and cost savings by amplifying problem solving systems and...


Build Loyalty Through Experience Management

by Berry, Leonard L.; Carbone, Lewis P.

Connecting emotionally with customers requires an organization to create a total customer experience that differentiates the organization from the competition. This is important because customers’ overall experiences with the organization and the...


Open Access

Army Aviation Depot Does an About Face

by Giddens, Jamey

A few years ago the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD), which provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the Air Force Pave Hawk helicopter, was in danger of losing the contract because of problems with turnaround time and cost overruns. CCAD’s...


Open Access

From One-Man Show to Baldrige Recipient

by Daniels, Susan

Mesa Products Inc., which manufactures and installs cathodic protection systems for underground piping and other metal structures, was the recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award in the small business category in 2006. Mesa’s quality...


Measure for Measure: Challenges of Instrument Innovations

by Payne, Graeme C.

Humans are innovators. We are always inventing new materials, methods, devices or ideas. From time to time, certain innovations cause major, unforeseen shifts in theory and practice....


Quality Glossary

by Nelsen, Dave

Five years after it published its first glossary of quality terms, ASQ has revised that glossary with updated definitions and new entries, many from the lean glossary published in 2005. This reference of terms, acronyms, and prominent figures in the...


Open Access

Career Corner: Get Around the Box

by Conklin, Joe

Thinking outside the box can be crucial to business success. But career success sometimes depends on getting around the box - and here I'm referring to the boxes on the organization chart....


The International Growth of Quality

by Feigenbaum, A.V.

Human, economic, and technological changes in the international arena require that businesses deliver high quality value to customers. Fundamental to any business's competitive strength is its ability to understand and implement the language of quality....


Merging Quality Cultures in Contract Manufacturing

by Jones, David M.

When EPIC Technologies acquired the Siemens Electronic Manufacturing Center operations in Johnson City, Tennessee, it became necessary to merge its quality culture with those of its new subsidiary while continuing to keep its original customers happy....


3.4 per Million: Six Sigma in Everything We Do?

by Carnell, Mike

I was lucky to work for Motorola in the 1980s and early 1990s - right in the middle of the company's transformation. Motorola was at risk as were many U.S. businesses....


Open Access

Lean Lessons: Moving and Controlling the Flow of Quality

by Malhotra, Iqbal

Batch size reduction and rigorous inventory management are important in controlling costs and improving throughput. This can be achieved readily by converting a traditional manufacturing layout to a lean cellular/flow configuration....


Look for Trouble

by Evans, John M.

Organizational excellence depends on people, but human error remains a persistent problem. Most of what people do throughout the day follows a pattern of recognition, selection, and action, with very little conscious thought, leaving the mind free for...


Open Access

Lean Lessons: Keeping Lean Alive

by Alukal, George

We know we cannot stand still in the face of global competition. Our rivals are not standing pat--they are improving their processes and systems to catch up or overtake us. If we do not improve, sooner or later our customers will prefer our rivals....


Measure for Measure: Four Steps to Ensure Measurement Data Quality

by Graham, Robert

Part one of this column, published in July, posed four questions you should ask to ensure your measurements are providing data that are good enough for the given application....


3.4 Per Million: The Hard Part: Holding Improvement Gains

by Snee, Ronald D.

You've overcome the obstacles to launch your latest improvement initiative: scarce resources, time pressure, unforeseen glitches at every turn. Now comes the hard part--sustaining the gains....


No Longer Lost in Translation

by Menard, Vernon J., III; Menard, Michelle

Language barriers and communication delays can disrupt a company's plans to survive and thrive in a global economy. The pursuit of quality also depends on bridging the communication gap. Without communication there can be no bridge from quality theory...


Standards Outlook: Increase ISO 9001's Value

by Liebesman, Sandford

ISO 9001 describes a basic, effective quality management system (QMS). Compliance to it is the starting point toward achieving excellence in an organization. Additions to an ISO 9001 compliant QMS can act as the first steps toward excellence....


The Histogram for Complex Parts

by Vermani, S.K.

In the aerospace industry, production and procurement usually consists of infrequent lots of complex parts with relatively small lot sizes. Data are often insufficient to implement standard process assessment techniques. In these situations, a percent...


Open Access

Make Healthcare Lean

by Manos, Anthony; Sattler, Mark; Alukal, George

The principles of lean manufacturing are as applicable to healthcare as they are to the automobile industry. However, unlike manufacturing, healthcare management structures are not usually hierarchical, and hospitals generally are not-for-profit. Value...


Open Access

Lean Lessons: Value Stream Mapping--an Introduction

by Manos, Tony

Value stream mapping (VSM) can be an extremely powerful tool, combining material processing steps with information flow as well as other important related data. VSM is arguably one of the most powerful lean tools for an organization......


Statistical Engineering: A Case Study

by Steiner, Stefan; MacKay, Jock

The statistical engineering algorithm can be used to reduce variation in manufacturing and assembly processes, and is particularly useful in improvement systems such as Six Sigma. A case study illustrates how a team used the SE algorithm to reduce...


Core Roles in a Strategic Quality System

by Imler, Ken

When establishing and maintaining a strategically viable quality system, senior management defines the roles played by groups, departments, or functions within the organization using risk/benefit analysis to determine the best fit in terms of logistics,...


Open Access

Simple Tools for Complex Systems

by Thiraviam, Amar Raja

Complex problems don't always require complex solutions. Pareto analysis and process mapping are examples of simple tools that can reduce the defects of a complex manufacturing process. A high-tech manufacturer of electromechanical devices put these...


Open Access

Back to Basics: That's So Random - or Is It?

by McCain, Cecelia

Assignable cause, random variation, process stability, process capability—these terms can easily confuse those new to process management. Does random variation in a process automatically require process improvement?...


Open Access

Lean Lessons: All About Lean

by Alukal, George

Lately, lean has been receiving a lot of attention from quality professionals, management and the media. After getting its start in manufacturing, it has now migrated to nonshop floor activities in sales, customer service, accounting, HR......


Quality in the First Person: Perfectionists Make Bad Machinists

by Ellis, Charles J.

I entered the strange and wonderful world of quality in 1985. Previously, I was a machine operator in an industrial shock absorber factory. I cut chrome plated rod and operated two computer numerical control (CNC) machines....


Are You Making Decisions in a Fog?

by Snee, Ronald D.

Just as water makes up two thirds of the world's surface, measurement constitutes an enormous part of the scientific method and scientific problem solving....


Big Improvements for Small Parts

by Dudman, Lorena

National Semiconductor Corporation is a process-driven manufacturer looking for additional ways to cut costs. Having experienced dissatisfaction with an earlier continuous improvement program, it became clear that reducing costs while maintaining...


Quality Pros Break Through the Healthcare Barrier

by Vnuk, Dan

Many quality professionals have been denied access to quality jobs in the healthcare sector because they lack medical backgrounds. One exception is Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic, which has established a central department dedicated to helping the clinic...


Open Access

Corral Your Organization's Knowledge

by Okes, Duke

One useful method of determining organizational performance is to assess how well it manages critical knowledge. Definitions of knowledge management may vary, but they generally fit into one of four categories: Information technology, organizational...


Improve Profits With Standards

by Dawes, Edgar

The goal of CEOs and business managers is to make products that please customers and produce a profit. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides a roadmap for profit gains through its standards and technical reports. Used in...


Use Simple Models for Incoming Defects

by Bartlett, Terry R.

The best quality system cannot prevent or detect all defects before delivery, so customers generally set a quality target they want a supplier to achieve. The standard should be high, but achievable. For example, the customer might expect the supplier...


Lean Glossary

by Rooney, Steven A.; Rooney, James J.

A glossary defines terms commonly associated with lean...


Return on Investment

by Westcott, Russ

Return on investment (ROI) is a powerful tool to add to your repertoire of skills. It will help you sell quality improvement initiatives and enable you to demonstrate the benefits from such improvements....


FMEA--Something Old, Something New

by Reid, R. Dan

Managing risk is not optional for organizations. Clause 0.1 of ISO 9004 mentions risk management in the same breath with cost and benefit considerations as being important to an organization, its customers and interested parties....


Open Access

How To Prepare an Excellence Award Application

by Bodinson, Glenn W.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence represents the best business model in the world. Even if your company doesn't expect to win the award, submitting an application has many benefits. Whether your goal is to receive feedback, receive a site...


Make No Mistake

by Smith III, Edwin B.

Mistake proofing tools provide low cost, effective defect prevention and operator feedback. They can stop mistakes from being made or make mistakes obvious at a glance....


A Midstream Career Change

by Heimbach, Jim

I began my life in the real world with a new engineering degree, a new job with a major aircraft manufacturer and a new baby. My first brush with the quality industry was after two years as an intern for the Boeing Co....


How Useful Is QFD?

by Sanford, John L.

The author describes his experience mentoring high school students participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition, a multinational event that teams professionals and students to solve engineering problems. After a successful performance in the 2003...


Dad's Toolbox

by Jannusch, Larry

It's kind of strange that I got into the quality field because of my dad's tools....


Sarbanes-Oxley: Pain or Gain?

by Cobb, Charles G.

The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regulatory requirements passed by Congress in 2002 ensures investors are provided with accurate and reliable financial data on all publicly traded companies. Implementation of these requirements can be expensive and difficult....



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